Monash University
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A cross-cultural validation of western constructs of spirituality, personality traits, and cognitive beliefs, and their interrelations in a Malaysian context.

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posted on 2017-02-28, 23:22 authored by Muhamad, Haslina
As a means of enhancing Well-Being the general purpose of this study was to research, develop, and test the cross-cultural applicability of an integrative model of Spirituality and how it relates cross-culturally to Personality traits and Western-type Cognitive Beliefs. In the process the study sought to: (1) Seek out appropriate well-validated instruments that have operationalized the constructs within the domains of Spirituality, Personality traits, and Cognitive Beliefs in Western settings; (2) Translate and validate these instruments into an Eastern language and culture, and; (3) Elucidate and cross-culturally validate the nomological net concerning Spirituality, Personality traits, and Cognitive Beliefs by: a) exploring the relationship between Spirituality factors and the Personality traits of the Five-Factor Model of Personality ; b) investigating the relationship between Personality and Cognitive Beliefs factors on Spirituality; and c) examining the mediating effect of Cognitive Beliefs on the Personality-Spirituality relationship. Well-being has emerged as one of the domains intensely studied not only in the field of positive psychology, but also personality, social, and organizational psychology. While numerous Western researchers have shown that the domains of Spirituality, Personality, and certain cognitive factors are significantly related to Well-Being, there is a serious question as to whether these are applicable cross-culturally in an Eastern culture. The importance of Spirituality in human health and Well-being is well documented. Research over a number of years has identified Spirituality as necessary for an individual’s overall Well-Being, which explains the upsurge of interest in the study of Spirituality. Since Spirituality constructs reflect many characteristics of traditional personality variables, some researchers rationalise that Spirituality can be understood within the broader models of Personality. Accordingly, many researchers have examined the relationship between Spirituality and Personality. Aside from Personality traits, a number of fundamental cognitions and beliefs have been shown to significantly impact Well-Being, Irrational Beliefs, Self-Efficacy, and Locus of Control have also been shown to correlate with Spirituality. With a wealth of publications, primarily in the West, that scientifically examine and explore the Spirituality phenomena, there is now a need for empirical studies delineating the concept of Spirituality in an alternative cultural context, such as Malaysia, with very limited publication of any studies in Spirituality. No research could be found in Malaysia in regard to the relationship between Spirituality, Personality, and Cognitive Beliefs. This study used a survey research method. A packet of questionnaires consisting of instruments measuring the constructs of interests was prepared to allow for the investigation of the relationship between Spirituality, Personality and Cognitive Beliefs. First, I systematically translated the English instruments into Malay. Then I conducted the pilot test with twenty participants to check for the clarity of language used. The final paper and pencil and online version of the survey were administered to the participants in order to validate the instruments and to examine the relationships between the above-mentioned variables. The participants were students at a Malaysian public university recruited via flyers explaining the study’s general purpose and inviting their participation by paper and pencil or online using SurveyMonkey. The 437 respondents were randomly allocated to a Calibration sample of 236 (Mean age = 21.2, SD = 1.69) and a Validation sample of 201 (Mean age = 21.1, SD = 1.83). Data were analyzed using SPSS and AMOS to examine the psychometric properties of the instruments and to test for the direct and mediation effects. This dissertation reports that the systematic translation process demonstrated that modifications and revisions need to be made to the English instruments measuring Spirituality, Personality Traits, and Cognitive Belief factors for them to become valid and reliable measures in the Malaysian context. The validation of these Malay-translated instruments required the use of sophisticated modelling techniques encompassing the classical test theory, a popular statistical framework for addressing test measurement problems. The findings regarding the interrelationships between the variables indicated that: • Irrational Beliefs partially mediated the relationship between Neuroticism and two dimensions of Spirituality, namely, Existential Well-Being and Paranormal Beliefs; • Self-Efficacy Beliefs fully mediated the relationship between Conscientiousness and Religiousness, and partially mediated the Extraversion-Cognitive Orientation towards Spirituality relationship; and • Chance Health Locus of Control partially mediated the Neuroticism-Existential Well-Being relationship. In summary, the results confirmed the cross-cultural applicability of the (a) Neuroticism-Irrational Beliefs-Existential Well-Being/Paranormal Beliefs model; (b) Conscientiousness-Self-Efficacy-Religiousness, and Extraversion-Self-Efficacy-Cognitive Orientation towards Spirituality model; and finally (c) Neuroticism-Chance Health Locus of Control-Existential Well-Being model. Validation results of the Malay-translated instruments confirmed the appropriateness of these instruments for investigating the interrelationships between these variables as well. The findings of this study will assist academic researchers in further delineating Spirituality phenomena and universality in terms of cross cultural applicability. For health practitioners, an understanding of the mediational role of modifiable Cognitive Beliefs factors points towards its usefulness in therapeutic interventions aimed to promote Spirituality and subsequently, overall Well-Being. Using techniques similar to those utilized in this study, it would be possible to expand understanding of the impact of Spirituality, Personality traits and Cognitive Beliefs on the dimensions of Well-Being, which in this study was not considered.


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Principal supervisor

John Roodenburg

Additional supervisor 1

Dennis W. Moore

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Department, School or Centre

Krongold Centre


Doctor of Philosophy

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Faculty of Education

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